Hubert McIntosh

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Protect Your Business Data from Hackers

Do you know where your company’s data is? Without strong security controls in place, your data could be anywhere — and you could be dealing with a privacy breach. As technology grows more complex and the flow of information accelerates, opportunities for the misuse and abuse of data are bound to increase.

Flow Chart of Data

It’s imperative that you know exactly what data your business collects. Pay particular attention to the personally identifiable information (PII) you have for both customers and employees. Create a detailed flow chart showing what information is gathered, how it is captured, how it is used, where it is stored, how it is shared, and how it is ultimately disposed of.

Risk and Regulations

An effective data management plan helps ensure compliance and manage risk by establishing policies and procedures that control the flow and use of information. In addition to federal privacy legislation, the vast majority of states have laws to prevent security breaches, and some industries have developed their own privacy guidelines. Note that each phase of the information “life cycle” may require a unique set of controls.

Privacy Policies

Privacy policies are the “public” face of your data management plan. Best practices include:

  • Notify customers about your privacy policies. Explain why information is collected, how it is used, why it is retained, and why it is disclosed (if it is).
  • Obtain customers’ consent to use the information as outlined in your policies.
  • Collect only the information you need and only for the purposes outlined.
  • Keep personal information secure.
  • Allow customers to review and update their PII.
  • Do not retain the information any longer than needed to fulfill your stated purpose or as required (by law or regulation).
  • If you disclose information to a third party, do so only with the consent and only for the purposes outlined.
  • Monitor your compliance efforts on an ongoing basis.

For more tips on how to keep business best practices front and center for your company, give us a call today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Pros and Cons of a Paperless Business

Has your bank, broker, credit card company, or maybe even your phone or utility company sent you information about getting your statements online instead of through the mail? Going paperless has its advantages — not the least of which may be seeing your countertop for the first time in months. But it also has its drawbacks. Before you completely eliminate paper statements, look at both the pros and cons.

The Benefits

When customers manage their accounts online, companies can save substantial amounts of money in printing and mailing costs. That’s why many companies offer incentives, such as reducing interest rates or fees or making donations to environmental groups, to encourage customers to go paperless. And fewer mailings mean there’s less risk that someone could steal personal documents from your mailbox and use the information fraudulently.

The Drawbacks

While companies claim financial information sent electronically is more secure, not everyone agrees. When they happen, security breaches can put your personal information at risk. And it may be easier to miss the e-mail or forget about reviewing statements or paying bills when you don’t have them right in front of you.

Another potential drawback: Retrieving statements that are more than a few months old may be difficult, although many companies say they’re working on archiving several years’ worth of documents.

Going paperless may be to your advantage, but weigh everything carefully before you sign up.

Take charge of your financial future. Give us a call, today, to find out how we can assist you and your business.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Need a Loan – Follow these Steps First

Is it time to put your expansion plan on the front burner? Have you outgrown your current location? Do you need to replace some equipment? There are many reasons small business owners might be in the market for a loan. If you’ll be shopping soon, here are some pointers.

Check your credit. When you apply for a loan, the lender will look at your personal and your business credit histories. Before you start the application process, check to make sure both are accurate and up to date. If there are errors, resolve them ahead of time.

Polish your plan. Prospective lenders will want to know as much as possible about your business. Prepare a comprehensive, up-to-date business plan that provides information about your company (a description and an executive summary) and yourself (educational background and relevant experience). Since your plan may be pivotal in convincing potential lenders to approve your loan, consider including an overview of your management team and key personnel along with some market analysis and a marketing plan.

You should also be prepared to provide financial statements and cash flow projections with good knowledge of your banking account status. Lenders may request personal financial statements for you and other owners as well.

Check your equity. Before you submit a loan application, make sure you have enough equity in the business. Although requirements can vary, lenders generally want a company’s total liabilities to be less than four times equity. A lender may require you to put some additional money into your business before approving you for a loan.

Identify collateral. Lenders generally require collateral, an alternate repayment source that can be used in case your business isn’t generating enough cash to make payments on your loan. Either business or personal assets can be used. If you don’t have anything you can use as collateral, perhaps you can find someone who does who will cosign the loan.

Look for a good match. If you already have a good working relationship with a bank that lends to small businesses, it makes sense to start there. If you don’t, or if your bank isn’t a good match, do your homework. Look for lenders that do business with companies similar in size to your own. Finding a lender that’s familiar with your industry is an added bonus.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Map Out Your Journey with a Business Plan

Much like a map or a GPS provides clear directions to your destination, a business plan can help define your goals and spell out the steps your business must take to achieve them. It can also establish a set of benchmarks to measure your progress. A business plan is critically important when it comes to obtaining financing. Here are the key sections that a business plan should include.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary outlines the primary points in the subsequent sections and touches on your company profile and goals.

Company Goals/Mission Statement

This section summarizes your company’s purposes and goals. It defines who you are and what you want to achieve.

Market Analysis

Here you can demonstrate your industry knowledge and present conclusions based on your assessment of the industry, your potential market and its demographics, and your main competitors.

Company Description

Provide information on what you do, how you do it, the markets your business serves, and what differentiates your business from the competition. You can include examples of recent projects that were completed and, if advisable, the names of some of your major clients.

Organization and Management

Here you can outline your business’s organizational structure and identify the company owners, management team, and board of directors.

Service or Product Line

This section provides the opportunity to explain what you sell and how your products or services benefit customers.

Strategy and Implementation

It’s important to summarize how you plan to market your business and what your sales strategy is. This section should include information on how you will reach target customers and penetrate the market and should provide details about pricing, promotions, and distribution.

Financial Plan

This is where you present an overview of your finances. It is where you lay out your assumptions about revenue growth, operating costs, and cash flows. Include balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow schedules as well as details about capital requirements.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Stretching QuickBooks Online: What You Can Do With Apps

QuickBooks Online has worked well for countless businesses as is. But if you need more than it offers in some areas, there’s likely to be an app for that.

You’d be hard-pressed to find two small businesses in the U.S. that have exactly the same needs when it comes to financial management. Fortunately, QuickBooks Online is powerful and flexible enough to please hundreds of thousands of small businesses.

As companies grow, they often find that the core features, user interface, and navigational tools that QuickBooks Online offers still suit them just fine. Still, they need to move beyond the tools offered in one or more areas.

That’s why QuickBooks Online has dozens of add-on applications – apps – that focus on one specific area of QuickBooks Online and extend what’s offered there. Since they’re all cloud-based, you have access to them anywhere, anytime, on a PC or mobile device, once you’ve set up an account.

To see what’s available, just click on the Apps link in the left vertical toolbar.

Figure 1: You can choose from dozens of integrated applications built specifically to add features and flexibility to individual areas of QuickBooks Online.

Take a look around this page, and click on any of them to get more information. All of the apps listed were designed to fit QuickBooks Online, but if you’re new to integrated applications or wondering whether a specific one would be a good match for your business, we can help you decide – and get started with it.

QuickBooks Online’s apps cover a lot of ground. Each falls into one of several categories, including billing and collections, expense management, time tracking, and customer relationship management. We’ll look at three of them here.

Bill.com automates your accounts payable and receivable. It began its life as a billing app (hence the name), adding receivables a few years ago. Though you could use it as a sole proprietor, its features are more fully utilized in a team setting. You email, fax, or upload incoming bills to your Bill.com account, where they can be entered, routed to the appropriate staff person, approved, and processed (transmitted directly to a vendor bank account or remitted via paper check). The ability to store all related documents in the cloud and maintain a strict audit trail add to the site’s security. Automated invoices, reminders, and payments simplify your receivables workflow. Bill.com also provides a close, real-time look at your current cash flow and also projects future scenarios.

Concur Travel and Expense has very tight integration with QuickBooks Online; it shares, for example, customer, vendor, and employee records, as well as job data and expense types. Your employees can either enter expense data manually or use a smartphone to take pictures of receipts, which can then be uploaded directly into Concur and automatically attached to their expense reports, along with any credit card charges (which can also be sent directly). Once you’ve approved an expense report, Concur handles the background bookkeeping and transfers funds into your employees’ bank accounts.

Figure 2: Your mobile employees can create and submit expense reports on the road using the mobile Concur app. iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry are also supported.

Method CRM marries your QuickBooks Online data to your customer relationship management tasks. Lists of your customers, vendors, items, etc. and their associated records are available in the app, as are transactions like invoices, payments, and vendor bills. When prospects fill out forms on your website asking for product and/or service information, a new lead/sales opportunity is created in Method CRM. If a lead becomes a customer, that data is shared with QuickBooks. The app is exceptionally customizable, down to the actual design (should you decide to tackle this, though, let us work with you from the start).

There are many other types of apps that can be integrated with QuickBooks Online, including:

– Constant Contact: Email marketing

 

– TSheets Time Tracking: Timesheets and time tracking

 

– Bigcommerce: Online shopping cart management

 

– F|G Receivables Manager: Smart accounts receivable management

 

– Shoeboxed: Scans and categorizes paper receipts

Figure 3: You can upload or drag and drop files, forward emails, or send paper receipts through U.S. Mail in a prepaid envelope to Shoeboxed.

These apps are easy to use for the most part, but whenever you’re moving data in and out of QuickBooks Online, you need to have a clear understanding of the source and destination. We’ll be happy to assist as you move beyond the boundaries of QuickBooks Online.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

QuickBooks Online’s Sales Tax Tools: The Basics

Are you paying the correct amount of sales tax to the proper agencies? QuickBooks Online can help.

It’s hard to imagine that small businesses used to have to manage sales tax manually. It was quite a time-intensive process, and it was so easy to make mistakes, for improve your business we recommend read inetsolutions reviews.

QuickBooks Online can handle the mechanics for you. Its sales tax tools are quite simple; they help set up both single and combined (up to five) rates. Then when you create invoices and other sales forms, you can select the appropriate rate(s). The site does the necessary calculations and includes sales tax in the totals. It also keeps a running tally of how much you owe to taxing agencies.

Bear in mind, though, that absolute accuracy is required for this often-confusing process. States have their own individual requirements, and in some geographical areas, you’ll have to charge county and/or municipal sales tax. So before you start entering rates and charging customers, we should sit down and go over issues like:

  • Whether you need a sales tax permit,
  • How to handle sales in other states,
  • What transactions are exempt from sales tax, and
  • How often – and to whom – you submit the money you’ve collected from customers.

Figure 1: QuickBooks Online simplifies the mechanics of charging sales tax. But let us work with you before you start using them.

This element of accounting is so critical that QuickBooks Online includes a special section devoted to it. To get to the Sales Tax Center, you’d click on Sales Tax in the site vpnicon.com. The page that opens will eventually display information about the sales tax you owe for a specific period and recent payments you’ve made.

It’s the Related Tasks over to the right that we’ll address first. The Edit sales tax settings link opens a small window that asks whether you charge sales tax. It also wants to know whether you want to specify one rate as your default – the rate that fills in automatically when you enter a taxable item on a sales form – and whether all customers, products, and services should be considered taxable.

Note: Even if you choose a default tax rate, you’ll be able to change it on individual forms as needed.

Figure 2: One of the things we’ll do as we help you get started with sales taxes is to make sure that your site settings are correct.

QuickBooks Online will now include a Tax column on sales forms like invoices. After you’ve entered all of your taxable items, you’d look below the line over to the right that says Taxable subtotal. Directly below that is a field where the sales tax rate should appear.

If you’ve created rates and they aren’t showing, you’d click the up-and-down arrow to display the list. Either select the appropriate one or click +Add new. QuickBooks Online would then multiply the taxable subtotal by your tax percentage and enter the result in the box to the right.

Figure 3: Once you’ve entered all of your items and/or services and you have a taxable subtotal, QuickBooks Online will calculate the sales tax payable based on the rate selected.

When you want to see where you stand with your sales tax obligation to date, you can run three reports designed to display this information:

  • Taxable Sales Summary shows a summary of all of the sales to which you’ve assigned a tax rate in your sales forms.
  • Sales Tax Liability Report tells you what you’ve collected in sales tax, as well as what you owe to taxing agencies.
  • Taxable Sales Detail is a more comprehensive version of the Taxable Sales Summary report. Its columns include Date, Transaction Type, Customer, Quantity, Rate, Amount, and Balance.

When sales taxes are due, you will pay them directly from the Sales Tax Center. Its Sales Tax Owed table will display the amounts you owe and to whom. If they’re recorded as a paid bill or a check, they won’t appear in the Recent Sales Tax Payments table.

We can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of correctly setting up your sales taxes from the start or of meeting the deadlines that your local taxing agencies enforce. Let us know when you want to start implementing this element of QuickBooks Online.

TurboTax has a lot going for it, but price isn’t one of them. The list price of its software routinely is on the high end of the spectrum, especially when you factor in the added cost of a state return. And if you want access to human help, it costs even more. See why Turbotax live is recommended by mydealsclub. TurboTax offers a free version that lets you file a Form 1040 but not schedules 1, 2 or 3. You would need those schedules in the process of reporting things such as business income, alimony, deductible student loan interest, certain retirement contributions, alternative minimum tax, the credit for dependent care expenses, the Lifetime Learning Credit or the Saver’s Credit.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Learning To Live With (and Appreciate) Employee Vacations

When it comes to employee benefits, paid vacation time is a favorite. Although not legally required in the U.S. (as it is in most other developed countries), most employers — about 77% of businesses in the private sector — provide their employees with paid vacation time.1

What’s in It for You?

But what is the business impact of letting your employees go on vacation? Isn’t it bad, especially for small businesses, when key employees are gone for a week or longer? Actually, it isn’t. While it may be disruptive in the short term, providing paid vacation time can benefit employers. A survey of human resources professionals, a large majority ranked taking vacation as very or extremely important for employee performance (94%), morale (92%), wellness (92%), productivity (90%), a positive culture (90%), and employee retention (88%).2

Survival Strategies

Vacations may be a win-win, but you still need to minimize disruption and maintain productivity when employees are away. Here are a few tips:

  • If you don’t already have one, formalize a vacation policy that spells out how to request vacation time, how many employees may be gone at the same time, how disputes will be handled, etc.
  • Create a master calendar and record all approved time off.
  • Cross-train employees; try to have at least two people trained to cover each job.
  • Have employees update their job descriptions and provide access to any passwords or other information that may be needed during their absence.
  • Prior to leaving, make sure employees compose “away” messages for voicemail and e-mail and let key customers and contacts know how long they will be gone.

Benefits Are the Bottom Line

A comprehensive, competitive benefits package is the best way to attract and retain employees. Top prospects want health insurance, voluntary benefits, and a retirement plan in addition to vacation time. How do your benefits stack up? Your financial professional knows the marketplace and can provide guidance to help you make your benefits package more competitive.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Making a Year’s Profit in a Seasonal Business

If you have a seasonal business, you most likely face some challenges that year-round businesses don’t. After all, trying to squeeze a year’s worth of business into a far shorter period can get pretty hectic. Here are some tips that may help.

Cash Control

All small business owners have to be careful cash managers. Strict wealth management is particularly critical when cash flows in over a relatively short period of time. One very important lesson to learn: Control the temptation to overspend when cash is plentiful.

Arming yourself with a realistic budget and sound financial projections, including next season’s start-up costs, can help you maintain control. And you may want to establish a line of credit just in case.

In the Off-Season

It’s difficult to maintain visibility when you aren’t in business year round. But there’s no reason why you can’t send your customers periodic updates via e-mail or snail mail. You’ll certainly want to announce your reopening date well ahead of time. You can also spend time developing new leads and lining up new business.

Time for R and R

You deserve it, so take some time for rest and relaxation. But you’ll also want to use the time your business is closed to make any necessary repairs and take care of any sprucing up you’d like to do. You can also use the off-season to shop around and look for deals on items you keep in stock and/or equipment you need to buy or replace.

Expansion Plans

If you’re thinking of making the transition from “closed for the season” to “open all year,” start investigating new product lines or services. If you diversify in ways that are complementary to and compatible with your core business, your current customer base may provide support right away. A well-thought-out expansion can be the key to a successful transition into a year-round business.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v

How to Improve Your Cash Flow

Slow paying customers, seasonal revenue variations, an unexpected downturn in sales, higher expenses — any number of business conditions can contribute to a cash flow crunch. If you own a small business, you may find the suggestions that follow helpful in minimizing cash flow problems including having a Personal banking account and more helpful tips.

Billing and collections. Your employees need to work with clear guidelines. If you don’t have a standardized process for billing and collections, make it a priority to develop one. Consider sending invoices electronically instead of by mail. And encourage customers to pay via electronic funds transfer rather than by check. If you don’t offer a discount for timely payment, consider adding one to your payment terms.

Expense management. Know when bills are due. As often as possible, pay suppliers within the period that allows you to take advantage of any prompt-payment incentives. Remember that foregoing a discount in order to pay later is essentially financing your purchase.

Take another look at your costs for ongoing goods and services, including telecommunications, shipping and delivery, utilities, etc. If you or your employees travel frequently for in-person meetings, consider holding more web conferences to reduce costs.

Inventory. Focus on inventory management, if applicable, to avoid tying up cash unnecessarily. Determine the minimum quantities you need to keep on hand to promptly serve customers. Systematically track inventory levels to avoid overbuying.

Debt management. Consider how you use credit. Before you commit to financing, compare terms from more than one lender and keep the amount to a manageable level. For flexibility, consider establishing a line of credit if you do not already have one. You will be charged interest only on the amount drawn from the credit line.

Control taxes. Make sure you are taking advantage of available tax breaks, such as the Section 179 deduction for equipment purchases, to limit taxes.

Develop a cash flow budget. Projecting monthly or weekly cash inflows and outflows gives you a critical snapshot of your business’s cash position and shows whether you’ll have enough cash on hand to meet your company’s needs.

Don’t get left behind. Contact us today to discover how we can help you keep your business on the right track. Don’t wait, give us a call today.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).

Hire Nothing But the Best

How can your company attract and retain top employees? It’s not always easy, especially for small businesses. Having a streamlined hiring process and ensuring that your salaries and benefits package is comparable to other, similar companies in your area can help make your company an attractive destination for high performers. Here are some pointers to jump-start your thinking.

Simplify the process. Make sure job responsibilities are clearly described when posting your openings. Candidates should be able to easily ascertain if they have the appropriate qualifications for a position. Also, describe any documentation candidates may need to submit with their applications.

Be open and professional. Let candidates know early in the process, preferably in the job posting or during interviews, how much the position pays. Top candidates appreciate candor about such matters. Treat candidates professionally during every stage of the process — it sends a strong signal about your company’s culture.

Evaluate your benefits package. Compensation and benefits are important factors when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. Salaries should be in line with what other companies in your region pay for specific occupations. Attitudes toward health and retirement benefits can influence employment choices and how committed and engaged employees are after they are hired. Your company will have a leg up on attracting and retaining the employees it needs to succeed and gain a competitive advantage if it can offer the benefit options top performers want.

If you are unsure whether your current benefits package is competitive, please contact your financial professional. An analysis of your current retirement and insurance benefits will help you identify areas that may need to be improved if you are to attract and retain the best employees.

…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v

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